Saturday, August 15, 2015

August Recommendations

What great books have you read lately? Here are some of my recent favorites:


THE CROSSOVER, by Kwame Alexander, who many of us were lucky enough to hear give an extraordinary speech at the SCBWI Summer Conference, delivers his Newbery-winner about a basketball phenom in rap-tinged verse. The story is extremely readable—the verse makes it flow quickly, and for me as a writer I was able to think about structure, using each of his poems as building blocks. (YA)

THE IRON TRIAL, Book One in the MAGISTERIUM series, by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare, is strong, well-written mid-grade fantasy. I suppose my biggest issue with mid-grade is when the voice doesn’t sound authentic, and instead of getting swept away I can picture an adult trying to sound like a kid. This series (which includes the second installment, The Copper Gauntlet, due out in September) has a voice that sounds just right for the material. And it’s exciting material—Callum Hunt is a dorky misfit who tries to hide his magic, but the powers that be find out and send him to magician school, where he gets into all kinds of trouble. Really strong MG fantasy here!  (MG)

Okay, so I read two more books in the Bloody Jack series, VIVA JACQUELINA! and BOSTON JACKY, by L. A. MEYER. Just when I thought I had had enough, these two were like visiting a good old friend—not much felt surprising, but the usual twists and turns of the writing, and Jacky’s voice and over-the-top antics will always entertain. And the Boston Jacky one has a fabulous ending, setting us up for the series finale, which I need to get to—immediately! (YA)

 Picture Books:

In BOATS FOR PAPA, by Jessixa Bagley, Buckley crafts small boats out of driftwood, and uses them to send notes to his father, who is absent from the story. This pitch-perfect book is not preachy in any way. The delicate, expressive ink and watercolor paintings will pull young readers in, and the author/illustrator uses every opportunity, including the endpapers, to add depth. It’s a most impressive debut!

Another impressive picture book debut is HOME, by Carson Ellis. Lyrical text describing different kinds of homes becomes interactive as the artist addresses her audience. She even shares a view of her own home and asks kids to share theirs. The strong gouache and ink paintings with hand lettering are each gorgeous enough to frame and hang on a wall.

I YAM A DONKEY, story, pictures, and bad grammar by CeCe Bell, is kind of a “who’s on first” routine—yes, about bad grammar-- told entirely in dialog. China markers and acrylic on vellum serve the story well. It’s funny!


No comments:

Post a Comment